Friday, July 04, 2014

“Diversity”: The Idol of Academia

“Diversity” is not just a good in the academic world. It is the supreme good, the one good before which all other considerations must yield.

Recently, a colleague expressed a preference for a certain Northeastern city university over a certain Midwestern Christian college because, he said, the former has more “diversity” than the latter.

All that this means, though, is that because this big city university in the Northeast is a racial, ethnic, and socio-economic polyglot and its Midwestern Christian counterpart is just too white, the former is preferable as an educational institution to the latter.

That this god of “diversity” is as educationally invidious as it is false can be seen easily enough.

First, the only diversity that should be of any concern at an institution of higher learning is intellectual diversity. “Diversity” of the sort—what we may call “cultural diversity”—that is all too typical at places like that big city university for which my colleague pines, need not and, in fact, does not give rise to any more intellectual diversity than can be found at less culturally heterogeneous institutions.

This brings us to the next point: “cultural diversity” not only doesn’t correspond to a rise in intellectual diversity; it invariably corresponds to a rise in political uniformity. This is crucial, for the promotion of “cultural diversity” is nothing more or less than the promotion of a left-wing ideological agenda.

While academics, like my colleague, look upon predominantly white colleges as insufficiently “diverse,” they wouldn’t even think to level this same criticism against “historically black colleges.” They cannot, however, have it both ways: if a predominantly white Christian school is educationally inferior because of its mono-racial character, then, mutatis mutandis, black schools must also be educationally inferior because of their racially homogenous character.

Moreover, for all of their clamoring over the need for greater “diversity,” academics don’t want things so diverse that politically incorrect perspectives are permitted a hearing on campus. Representation of fundamentalist Christians, moral traditionalists, conservatives, libertarians, anarchists, is not only never in demand; its anathema.

Thirdly, the idea that a predominantly, or even exclusively, white student body somehow militates against a quality education is offensive. But it’s offensive only because the history of Western civilization exposes just how patently absurd is the idea that racial homogeneity precludes intellectual richness.

The ideas that have composed the West’s consciousness from at least the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans over 2500 years ago through to the present day have derived, overwhelmingly, from white men. It isn’t that others haven’t made lasting contributions, of course. But even and especially in the eyes of its staunchest critics, Western civilization has always been identified with the civilization of European—i.e. Caucasian—peoples.

This is fact. It is equally a fact that it is only either a paralyzing ignorance of reality or incorrigible dishonesty that could prompt anyone to deny with a straight face that the Western tradition is the most intellectually heterogeneous—the most philosophically and theologically diverse—tradition in all of human history. The contemporary academic fiction that Western civilization, by virtue of the “dead white males” that historically shaped it, is somehow an intellectually stagnant monolith is worse than nonsense; to borrow a line from one of those dead white males, the 18th century English philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, it is “nonsense on stilts.”

A profound sense of individuality spawned both the passion and daring of those legions of dead white males from throughout the last nearly three millennia to whom we owe our civilization. That “diversity”—or, more accurately, “Diversity”—has become the new deity of, of all places, academia, is among the most sobering, most tragic, of commentaries on our age, for it proves that if the spirit of the Western mind hasn’t evaporated, it is beyond the academic world that it is to be found.


Americans Think Education Is on the ‘Wrong Track’—but Support for School Choice Is on the Rise

Support for school choice is on the rise, but Americans hold a “dim view of the federal government’s performance in K-12 education,” found the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice in its newly released “2014 Schooling in America Survey.”

The survey found 58 percent of Americans think that K-12 education has gotten off on the “wrong track,” and 74 percent have a negative view of federal involvement in education.

By contrast, the survey found 63 percent of Americans support school vouchers—a 7-point increase from 2012 – and the highest ever for vouchers. A full 64 percent of respondents support tax-credit scholarship options, which enable corporations or individuals to receive tax credits for donations to non-profit organizations that provide scholarships to children to attend a private school of choice. Education savings accounts and universal access to school choice also saw increases in public support.

The survey found 56 percent support ESAs, which empower families to direct education dollars to multiple education services, providers and products at once. ESAs allow parents to use a portion of the funds the state would have spent on their child in the public system toward a variety of educational options, including private schooling, tutoring, curricula and special education therapies. Families can even roll over unused funds into a college savings account.

Heritage Foundation fellow Lindsey Burke found that in Arizona, the first state to adopt ESAs, approximately 34 percent of families used the accounts to customize their child’s education.

In addition, the study also found that two-thirds of respondents either didn’t know how much was spent on average per pupil, or underestimated per-pupil spending.

This lack of knowledge regarding school spending stands in stark contrast to the type of transparency that options such as education savings accounts create. With an ESA, parents know exactly how much funding is allocated to their account and can spend those funds on educational options that best meet their child’s individual needs.

The Friedman survey also includes findings on the Common Core national standards and tests.

It found 50 percent of respondents said they support Common Core State Standards, compared to 41 percent who opposed. Among school parents, Friedman found 49 percent oppose but just 44 percent support. But 33 percent of parents “strongly oppose” Common Core and only 12 percent “strongly favor” the policy.

This tracks with a recent Rasmussen poll that found just 34 percent of American adults with children in elementary or secondary school support Common Core, down 18 points since November.

The data suggest that those who favor Common Core national education standards tend to hold a more favorable view of federal government involvement in education. According to the survey, 43 percent of Common Core proponents rated the federal government’s involvement in K-12 education positively; only 9 percent of Common Core opponents did.

As the Cato Institute’s Jason Bedrick noted, the survey’s findings “should warm the cockles of the hearts of everyone who supports greater choice in education: Each generation is progressively more favorable and less opposed to educational choice.”


Despite Academia's Best Efforts, Reagan Tops in Poll of Modern Presidents

In past columns, I've mentioned some teachers and professors that I've known who bluntly said that Ronald Reagan was the nation's worst president. It has become rather common in academia to describe the Reagan years as being filled with greed, and later, with deception in the Iran-Contra matter. Ronald Reagan's "trickle down" economic policies are dismissed in many classrooms as the very "voodoo economics" they were so termed by his onetime opponent and later vice president, George H.W. Bush.

And Reagan's visible decline as a result of Alzheimer's in his later years is often implied to be a fit description of his entire presidency. This assessment has given millions of young students an image of a half-wit, onetime movie star who somehow managed to fool voters into believing that he was instead a man of intelligence and action.

But a recent Quinnipiac poll of registered voters nationwide, asking them to rate "the best" and "the worst" presidents since World War II, reveals something interesting: Many of those young people who were taught history in the past few decades, and who have since become voters, don't agree with the opinion of many of their former teachers, nor with the often cleverly slanted accounts of the Reagan years they read in their history books.

When asked which president since World War II they considered "the worst," voters in the age group of 18-29 and 30-44, the two youngest categories in the survey, said George W. Bush. President Barack Obama came in second for this dubious distinction. When all age groups were included in the results, Obama was rated the overall worst. The poll has a margin of error of less than 3 percent.

The stunningly high percentage of younger voters who have abandoned Obama, both in rankings like the one cited here, and in recent job performance surveys, is a topic for another time. Keep in mind, too, that many younger respondents to surveys like this one tend to more thoroughly judge the presidents who served more recently and who thus were more a part of the respondents' daily lives. So the harsh judgments of both Obama and Bush should be taken with that in mind.

But what about the often vilified Ronald Reagan? It appears that all of those classroom lectures and unflattering portrayals of Reagan in school textbooks had a negligible impact on those they were meant to persuade. Among the two youngest segments of respondents to the poll, Reagan as the "worst" president rated an almost statistically irrelevant 4 percent. And much to the chagrin of many in academia and the media, Reagan topped the overall survey as the nation's "best" president in the modern era.

The youngest respondents in the survey, aged 18-29, rated Reagan third "best," which put him in a virtual statistical tie with John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, the two presidents who tied for "best" among this demographic.

Consider a college-aged student of 10 years ago, who in the classroom was subjected to the same unflattering reviews of the Reagan presidency. That person could be at least 30 years old today, placing them in the age group 30-44 in the poll's demographic breakdown. For that age group, Reagan was tops with 36 percent. Clinton was a distant second place as their choice for "best president." Unsurprisingly, Reagan topped the list with older respondents as well.

To be certain, time has a way of healing wounds and allowing myths to become reality with the public. Reagan had his shortcomings, as do all leaders. But some of those shortcomings, such as the Iran-Contra scandal, have saturated our media and history books in a way that seems unbalanced when compared to how scandals such as the IRS targeting of conservative groups and the Benghazi cover-up are covered today.

Fortunately, students in the end are encouraged to make their own choices. And it is pretty clear they have decided to ignore many of their teachers when it comes to the Reagan legacy.


Thursday, July 03, 2014

Group Files Suit to End Campus Speech Codes

FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, filed four lawsuits today against universities with restrictive speech codes on campus. The universities named in the suits are Ohio University, Chicago State University, Iowa State University, and Citrus College (Calif.).

“Unconstitutional campus speech codes have been a national scandal for decades. But today, 25 years after the first of the modern generation of speech codes was defeated in court, 58% of public campuses still hold onto shockingly illiberal codes,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “For 15 years, FIRE has fought for free speech on campus using public awareness as our main weapon, but more is needed.

Today, we announce the launch of the Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, an expansive new campaign to eliminate speech codes nationwide. We have already coordinated two lawsuits in the past nine months, and this morning we brought four more. The lawsuits will continue until campuses understand that time is finally up for unconstitutional speech codes in academia.”

The four schools each have a history of censoring student or faculty speech on campus. Citrus College, for example, has a "Free Speech Area" composed of 1.37 percent of its campus that is the only area on campus where free speech is actually permitted.

In 2013, FIRE filed a lawsuit against Modesto Junior College after a student was told he was not allowed to distribute copies of the U.S. Constitution on Constitution Day. The school settled for $50,000. A similar suit was filed against the University of Hawaii at Hilo, who also disciplined students for attempting to distribute the U.S. Constitution.

Free speech doesn't end the second one steps upon a college campus. Students deserve full free speech rights like any other citizen — good for FIRE for holding these schools accountable.


Radical Stupidity: Academics Endorse $20,000 Income for Everyone, Working or Not

If you made less than $20,000 annually, but were guaranteed $20,000 whether you worked at all, would you work?

Most wouldn't. And it should be obvious why: People like free time and they would gladly take more of it if they got paid for doing nothing (about $9.61 per hour).

Academics in wonderland need some remedial education because they have not figured out what should be blatantly obvious.

 A group of academics and activists is trying to drum up interest in an ambitious plan to provide every Canadian with a guaranteed minimum level of income — whether or not they have a job.

Rob Rainer, a campaign director for the Basic Income Canada Network, envisions a country where everyone is assured a minimum of $20,000 annually to make ends meet.

"For many of us, we think the goal is no one should be living in poverty," Rainer said at a conference on the issue over the weekend at McGill University.  "That's essentially what we're striving to achieve."

More than 100 speakers and participants were on hand for the conference, which focused on the merits of a guaranteed minimum income that would either replace or exist alongside existing social programs.

The idea is hardly new — the Canadian and Manitoba government conducted an experiment with the issue in the 1970s — but it has enjoyed a resurgence lately.

Switzerland is expected to hold a non-binding referendum this fall on whether to guarantee every citizen an annual income of $35,900 Cdn.  And in the United Sates, the idea has supporters on both sides of the political spectrum.

"The idea is not new, it's not really radical," Rainer said, pointing out that seniors and families with children receive a form of guaranteed income from the government.

"Where it does become more radical is when you get into the area of the working age population, and the idea that people should receive some income whether they are in the labour market or not. That's a fairly radical idea in our culture, because most of us were brought up to believe that in order to survive you have to work."

None of these geniuses have bothered to work out the tax implication math and the consequences of huge numbers of people who would prefer to watch TV, play games, or go fishing rather than work if the economic payback was the same.

Actually, because of transportation and meal costs, people working a $9.61 per hour job would be far worse off than those getting $9.61 for those sitting at home watching TV.

How many illegal aliens would such a scheme attract? And why would it stop at $20,000?

It wouldn't and couldn't. Companies would have to hike the minimum wage to $30,000 or $40,000 to attract any workers. Prices would go up accordingly, and the inflation aspects of a guaranteed "living income" would immediately make $20,000 too little to live on.

Someone with a 7th grade education should be able to figure this out. But academics in wonderland, with no common sense, and no real world experience can't.


New maths teachers to be offered £10,000 'hello', minister says

New maths teachers will be given £10,000 “golden hellos” under new government plan to improve standards, the skills and enterprise minister revealed.

Matthew Hancock announced the move as part of a wider scheme to drive up national standards in maths and English.

From September, all youngsters who fail to get a C-grade or above in maths and English will be forced to continue studying these two core subjects until they are 18.

Mr Hancock said: “Increasingly, all jobs need a combination of knowledge, skills, and the right behaviour to succeed.

“For that, a good grasp of English and maths is essential. For any job, in any industry – from professors to plumbers, and from artists to artisans - maths and English matter.”

Currently 27 per cent of pupils fail to gain a C in GCSE English while 26 per cent fail their Maths exam.

Fewer than one in ten of these school pupils go on to achieve an A* to C by the two subjects by the time they are 19, according to Mr Hancock.

He added: “Today I am announcing that from 2017 the new English and maths GCSEs, which are both more stretching and more relevant, will become the national standard qualifications for most students who failed to achieve a good pass in those subjects by age 16.

“We will work towards GCSE being the standard qualification for adults and Apprentices too, while retaining the important stepping stones like Functional Skills to help people reach that goal.”

He hopes the £10,000 incentive will attract talented graduates to teach maths in schools and colleges.

Writing in the Telegraph, he also hit out at the previous Labour Government for overlooking the importance of vocational qualifications and placing too much focus on getting pupils into university.

But he claimed the Coalition’s increased focus on putting vocational qualifications on an “equal footing” with academic achievements was paying off.

The new Technical Awards, announced last month, which will offer practical courses in subjects such as electronics and textiles from next year, will be “as rigorous and demanding as the new reformed GCSEs” he claimed.

Pupils wanting to study practical subjects will be able to go on and study Tech Levels which will be a “gold standard qualification that is finally as rigorous and respected as our A-levels” the minister added.

He said: “Britain's system of vocational education has long been seen as weak compared to some of our international competitors.

“Too much focus was put on a wrong headed target that 50 per cent of young people should go to University. The result was lack of focus on vocational education.

“Instead, we want all young people - from every background - to reach their potential.

“That means giving young people clear options for high quality education, academic, vocational, and combined, supporting our vision that it becomes the norm for young people to go either to University or into an Apprenticeship.

“Our job in Government is not to push one way or the other but to provide high quality option for both.”

The number of apprenticeships started in 2012 to 13 was almost double the number in 2009 to 10, he claimed, with applications for apprenticeships since August 2013 up 40 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Figures released last week show the number of 16 to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training is at its lowest level for 20 years.


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Rot of Intolerance at Swarthmore

It’s nice when they make things perfectly clear. You step on to a college campus and you are beset by people parading around telling you how much they love “diversity.” Then you find out that when anyone who holds an opinion not perfectly in line the the contemporary gospel of race-gender-environmental sensitivity, they are shouted off campus.  If they had been invited to speak at campus, they are disinvited, or if that wasn’t possible their appearance is subjected to sophomoric protests.  As I put it last month in The New Criterion, contemporary academia presents us with that oxymoronic phenomenon, Illiberal Liberalism.

Many well-meaning folks, I’ve observed, tend to discount the seriousness of this development. No matter how egregious the episode, they are ready with an extenuating excuse. It was an exception. It was not as bad as you made it seem. It was quickly remedied by a caring/sharing administration.  Et very much cetera.

It will be difficult, I think, for such hear-no-evil types to argue away Peter Berkowitz’s Open Letter to Swarthmore’s Board of Managers.  Berkowitz, himself an alumnus of Swarthmore, wrote to urge the tony but financially troubled institution to choose carefully in its search for a new president.  Please, he asked, please pick someone who will uphold the traditional values of liberal education, values that centrally include tolerance for competing views of the world.  Contemplating what actually happens at pampered institutions like Swarthmore, however, it is difficult to be sanguine. Berkowitz cites one episode that, in its crisp fatuousness, epitomizes so much that is wrong with higher education today.

Princeton Professors Robert George and Cornel West differ sharply in their philosophies. George is a conservative Catholic, West is some variety of Leftist firebrand. Despite their differences, however, they are friends and often appear together to debate. This is how it should be on college campuses, of course, since colleges are institutions that were formed to encourage free inquiry.

But that formation took place long ago.  When the pair came to Swarthmore in February to debate “same-sex marriage,” they were greeted by angry protests. Listen to Erin Ching, Class of 16: “What really bothered me,” Ching was quoted in the Swarthmore student newspaper as saying, “is the whole idea that at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion. I don’t think we should be tolerating [George’s] conservative views because that dominant culture embeds these deep inequalities in our society.”


Armed teachers — school shooters

There are several items in the news these days about “allowing” some teachers and administrators to be armed in order to respond to “school shootings.” In fact, some schools are actively in the process of providing for this. Even more surprising is the fact that many in “law enforcement” are starting to support the idea.

While I very much agree that teachers, like anyone else, must be free to carry arms for self defense, maybe a better alternative to armed teachers and “guards” in “public schools” is to stop gathering hundreds or thousands of helpless potential victims into these tactical nightmare environments.

There are many much better alternatives to government indoctrination camps. The risk of an actual shooter is a much smaller problem than the unavoidable fact that government “education” is dedicated to the eradication of critical thinking and individual liberty.

Educator John Taylor Gatto in The Underground History of American Education describes Prussian thinking at the time:

The Prussian mind, which carried the day, held a clear idea of what centralized schooling should deliver: 1) Obedient soldiers to the army; 2) Obedient workers for mines, factories, and farms; 3) Well-subordinated civil servants, trained in their function; 4) Well-subordinated clerks for industry; 5) Citizens who thought alike on most issues; 6) National uniformity in thought, word, and deed.

Home schooling, UN-schooling and so forth are excellent alternatives to government “school,” but not the only ones by any means. The key is to get government OUT of our business completely, OUT of our schools, hospitals, beauty salons, and the many thousands of other things they’ve decided to control, “for our own good” – like guns, for instance.

In that case, parents could get together and form any number of mutually agreeable and practical alternatives, employing tutors or bringing in grandmothers to teach what they know best. Cooperatives and private schools today groan under a weight of foolish and counter educational burdens that would make Atlas scream.

So that’s really the solution… Atlas must shrug… Parents must stop believing that government has any legitimate authority over their children’s education – or anything else.


The Prince of Wales is absolutely right – bring back grammar schools

Academic selection offers working-class pupils their only hope of the glittering prizes

It was a stormy graduation day in Cambridge on Saturday. Drenched with rain, the students in their gowns looked like penguins emerging from the sea. Parents wielded golf umbrellas, the sword and shield of the English middle classes. The downpour could not extinguish their justifiable pride: a degree from a university often ranked number one in the world is still a glittering prize.

But as the graduates splashed down Trinity Street clutching their BA (Cantab), I wondered how many had come to this beautiful, fiercely clever place from a state school, as I did. The latest figures reveal that state-educated applicants bagged just over 61 per cent of Cambridge places in 2013/14, down from more than 63 per cent. Despite the university spending more than £4 million a year on “outreach” work to identify talented pupils from deprived backgrounds, Cambridge’s social mix remains stubbornly static.

To coincide with the raising of tuition fees to £9,000 a year in 2012, the Coalition insisted that universities set targets designed to boost entry rates among students from disadvantaged groups. A turf war ensued. In the red corner, there is Professor Les Ebdon, head of the Kafkaesque Office for Fair Access, who wants Cambridge and other elite institutions to set the most “challenging benchmarks” – ie to wave in underqualified students from poorer homes and spurn brilliant, privately educated ones in the noble cause of social engineering. In the light blue corner, we have Cambridge’s director of admissions, Mike Sewell, who insists that the university is roughly on target with state-school admissions, but remains a “highly selective institution” which allocates places on merit and does not operate a “quota system”.

As the thunder rumbled above King’s College Chapel at the weekend, a storm was brewing elsewhere over the Prince of Wales’s meddling in education. David Blunkett claimed in Royal Activist, a Radio 4 documentary, that the heir to the throne urged him, as education secretary, to support grammars. “I would explain,” recalled a self-satisfied Blunkett, “that our policy was not to expand grammar schools, and he didn’t like that. He was very keen that we should go back to a different era where youngsters had what he would have seen as the opportunity to escape from their background, whereas I wanted to change their background.”

With hindsight, David, how did the “changing their background” thing work out? Well, according to every indicator, white working-class children are failing dismally. Only 32 per cent get five decent GCSEs. In the latest Pisa ratings, which compare the performance of 15-year-olds across 32 countries, Britain’s showing was pitiful: we came 26th in maths and 23rd in reading. The day is fast approaching when England won’t even come top in English.

An impartial observer might conclude that the experiment in comprehensive education, stretching over almost 50 years, has been a disaster that has enfeebled this country at a time when its youngsters desperately needed to compete with ferociously focused foreign competition. My own homeland, south Wales, has gone from being an educational powerhouse, sending thousands of bright youngsters to Oxford and Cambridge, to a sitting-at-the-back-of-the-class-with-raffia-mats dunce. The only part of Britain to buck the dismal trend is Northern Ireland, which – surprise, surprise – clings to a grammar-school system that helps children escape their background, as Prince Charles suggested.

Thank heavens, indeed, that there’s someone prepared to stick up for intellectually gifted children whose parents can’t afford to buy private schooling, so instead have to survive in chaotic classrooms that are the enemy of learning. But what a cruel irony that the people’s party has set its face against grammar schools, while the next King, a scion of hereditary privilege, is left to speak up for the only proven engine of social mobility.

How dare David Blunkett patronise the Prince, implying that he is merely some kind of rose-tinted nostalgist? It is the “progressive” system that has brought about near-perfect apartheid. The rich can buy the best private education for their children; the well-off can buy a house near a top state school, or employ tutors to coach their offspring to get into one of the few remaining grammars; and the reasonably well-off can also hire tutors to supplement a bad-to-mediocre state education. The poor, meanwhile, get what they’re given. My parents, who both attended the excellent Llanelli Grammar School in the Fifties, would certainly have fallen into that last, most abject category. Today, a child born into their circumstances doesn’t have a hope in hell of academic success. I have no words for how angry that makes me.

If a drug that had improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Britons was suddenly withdrawn from the market because it hadn’t been able to cure everyone, there would be a national outcry. Yet that is exactly what happened with grammar schools. In order to cover up their error, politicians of all parties fostered a mendacious exam system which inflates children’s level of achievement, making it almost impossible for admissions tutors to pick out the best candidates. MPs and ministers then have the nerve to harass universities such as Cambridge – which, quite naturally, don’t wish to admit students who will dilute the excellence that the Les Ebdons of this world so fear and despise.

I remember one despairing Director of Studies in English at Cambridge telling me that he had stayed up all night, going through applications, trying to uncover a single state-school kid he could let in. “If you find a promising one, there is always another story behind it,” he sighed. “The parents turn out to be head teachers or something.” Why could he never find a pupil from a comprehensive on a par with one from Eton or St Paul’s? Is it because people from my background are inherently thick – or is it because government has destroyed the grammar schools, and an academic ethos that would have enabled us to fight on a level playing field?

Read my lips, Cameron, Clegg and Miliband: grammar schools are oversubscribed because they work. In a recent ICM poll, 70 per cent of voters supported the retention of the 232 grammar schools in England and Northern Ireland. Some 76 per cent would like to see new grammar schools, especially in urban areas. Support is strong across all age and income groups – but especially, and very revealingly, among the young. A staggering 85 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds want more grammar schools.

The old argument trotted out by politicians is that grammars do well for their own pupils, but harm other schools locally. Yet that scarcely bears scrutiny at a time when so many British pupils are failing abysmally. We have a comprehensive system, with hardly any grammars, and we are second to bottom of the European literacy league. How much worse could things get?

The Prime Minister says voters don’t want to see children “sorted into sheep and goats at 11”. So does that mean they want donkeys at 16? It’s really not complicated. Without academic selection, Britain’s got talent, but too often it is doomed to bloom unseen. The Education Act of 1996 emphasised “the general principle that pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents”. Well, most parents I know are in wholehearted agreement with Prince Charles. We want more grammar schools, and we want them now.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Poor, bright British children missing out on top universities: More than 2,000 are overtaken by less able pupils after getting lost in the 'secondary school maze'

The authors below seem unaware that IQ peaks earlier among low IQ individuals  -- and those who peak early often look relatively good at early ages.  That alone could explain the results below

More than 2,000 bright children from poor homes are missing out on places at top universities because they get lost in a ‘secondary school maze’, according to new research.

These disadvantaged students are being overtaken by less able but more well-off pupils despite their early promise.

Former Labour Health Secretary Alan Milburn, chairman of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, which published the findings, warned Britain is wasting talent on ‘an industrial scale’.

Researchers tracked the progress of high achieving pupils from poor backgrounds throughout the education system and compared it to that of their more advantaged counterparts.

They examined a sample of more than 520,000 children born in 1991-2 and looked at the proportion attending elite universities as well as prior attainment at ages seven, 11, 16 and 18.

Measures of the children’s socio-economic background such as the proportion claiming Free School Meals - an indicator of poverty - during secondary school were also analysed.

Children from poorer backgrounds who were high achievers in tests age seven were more likely ‘to fall off a high attainment trajectory than children from richer backgrounds’, the study found.

They performed worse than lower-achieving students from the least deprived families by Key Stage Four (age 14-16) at secondary school.

Lower-achieving affluent children caught up with the poor high achievers between Key Stage Two (ages seven to 11) and Key Stage Four.

This suggested that ‘substantial’ numbers of children from poorer backgrounds are being allowed to fall behind, with their chances of attending university damaged.

Of the 7,853 children from the most deprived homes who achieved ‘level five’ in English and maths aged 11 - above the standard expected of their age - only 906 went on to an elite university.

Researchers calculated that if they had the same trajectory as a child from one of the least deprived families, then 3,066 of these children would have been likely to go to a top institution.

This means that 2,160 poor children are falling behind and not fulfilling their potential displayed in primary school tests.

The report, compiled for the commission by the Centre for Analysis of Youth Transitions, said: ‘The period between Key Stage Two and Key Stage Four appears to be a crucial time to ensure that higher-achieving pupils from poor backgrounds remain on a high achievement trajectory.’

Universities and policymakers should provide poor students with advice to ‘encourage greater numbers of applications to elite institutions, as those with the top grades stand a good chance of getting in if they do apply’.

Mr Milburn said: ‘Each year, 2,000 of the brightest poor children who have done well at primary school seem to lose direction in a secondary school maze and so miss out on a top university place.

‘The early promise of top-performing poor children is being squandered. No doubt there are many reasons for why that might be the case.

‘But for secondary schools the research is a wake-up call for them to do more to realise the potential of each of these students.’

He added: ’It is vital that secondary schools focus harder on helping disadvantaged children convert high results at age 11 to excellent GCSE and A-level results in academic subjects and that all high attainers are given appropriate advice, access to opportunities and support to progress to elite universities.

‘If Britain’s sluggish rates of social mobility are to improve the poorest bright children must be helped to navigate the secondary school maze.’

Conor Ryan, director of research at the Sutton Trust, said: ‘It is vital we do more to support highly able children from low and middle income backgrounds in state schools.

‘With the demise of the gifted and talented programmes, too many schools are not doing enough to stretch and encourage students with the potential to succeed.’


Poor white British pupils put off school by multicultural curriculum

White working class children are being “marginalised” at school after being forced to follow a multicultural timetable that shuns British traditions, according to research.

Large numbers of schools follow a curriculum that celebrates a “diverse range of pupils” while sidelining those from poor British families, it was claimed.

Head teachers told how they ran numerous projects such as Black History Month and “cultural days” to raise awareness of countries such as Portugal, Poland and Jamaica.

But it was claimed that white British pupils from deprived homes often “cannot see themselves or their lives reflected in the curriculum”, turning them off school altogether.

The study, published by Lambeth Council in south London, said that poor children were further isolated by a "small world" mentality, with parents failing to take them to the local park or visit places of interest.

Researchers called on the Department for Education to develop a "curriculum that treats white British identity in the same way as ethnic minorities”.

It comes just weeks after Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, pledged to require all schools to actively promote British values in the classroom to combat extremism.

The conclusions come amid growing concerns that working-class white British children are lagging dramatically behind at school and now perform worse than any other group.

According to figures, just 32.3 per cent of poor white British children left school last summer with five A* to C grades at GCSE.

Poor children from every other ethnic group performed better, with more than three-quarters of poor Chinese pupils and 61.5 per cent of those from deprived Indian families achieving the best results.

The gulf in results between poor white children and their richer classmates has hardly changed in the last seven years, even though the gap seen in other ethnic groups is narrowing.

Research by officials in Lambeth – one of the capital's most multicultural boroughs – was commissioned to arrest the decline of working-class white British pupils.

The study was based on interviews with 76 heads, teachers and school support staff, alongside 39 parents and 61 pupils.

Teachers criticised a culture of low aspirations and a “small world” mentality among many poor white families, claiming many parents spent hours with children in front of the TV, refusing to visit local parks.

But the study said parents themselves “lamented a lack of white culture reflected in school life which perpetuated for many the marginalisation they felt within their communities”.

It said some schools “felt that the pressure on schools to establish a curriculum which is relevant to a diverse range of pupils has possibly marginalised white pupils”.

One head teacher told researchers: “The curriculum that has been on offer has not been meeting the needs of white British pupils. There has been much emphasis in recent years on elements of black history and a celebration of cultural days such as ‘Portuguese day’. There has been nothing for the British culture.

“This might have led to a sense of them losing their identity.”

Another head said: “It seems to be easier to celebrate the good things about other cultures – the dance, the food, the stories and to ask parents to come in and share their food, their traditions with us. We’ve worked through the cultures and have left this one to last.”

One primary school teacher told how the school was “very explicit in celebrating other cultures”, but added: “There is always that difficulty in identifying what is British culture. How many of our pupils would understand what maypole dancing is about?...

“We celebrate Christmas and Easter but even that is done in a diverse way. I think white families are expected to just fit into the curriculum, it is seen as the norm for them and we focus on the children new to the country.”

Another head teacher told how Caribbean, Polish and Portuguese families had a greater sense of cultural identity but “nothing binds” white British children together.

It was claimed that many poor white British children in the area have black cultural role models and “speak with a South London patois”.


California's Absurd Intervention Over Dorm Room Sex

Legislators and activists just don't trust adults to navigate issues of consent without them.

With all the other drama in the news, the likely passage of a California law ostensibly targeting sexual assault on college campuses—approved by the state Senate on May 29 and by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on June 18—has gone largely unnoticed. Yet the bill, SB-967, deserves attention as an alarming example of creeping Big-Sisterism that seeks to legislate "correct" sex. While its reach affects only college students so far, the precedent is a dangerous and potentially far-reaching one.

The bill, sponsored by state Senator Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) and developed in collaboration with student activists, does nothing less than attempt to mandate the proper way to engage in sexual intimacy, at least if you're on a college campus. It requires schools that receive any state funds through student aid to use "affirmative consent" as the standard in evaluating sexual assault complaints in the campus disciplinary system. According to the bill:

"Affirmative consent" is an affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Consent is informed, freely given, and voluntary. It is the responsibility of the person initiating the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the consent of the other person to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.

The idea that "no means no" is not enough and consent requires an explicit "yes" has long been the dogma of feminist anti-rape activists. In the early 1990s, Ohio's super-progressive Antioch College was widely mocked for its code of student conduct that mandated verbal consent to each new level of intimacy. But despite the ridicule, sexual misconduct policies requiring clear, explicit agreement to specific acts continued to spread to campuses across the country.

In a article defending "affirmative consent," feminist writer Amanda Hess stipulates that such laws should be "broad enough to include nonverbal cues." But that would leave fact-finders, in real courts or campus pseudo-courts, to try to decide such questions as: Was a head motion a nod that indicated a "yes"? Does pulling someone closer during an embrace amount to consent to sex? Does a passionate response to a kiss amount to a "nonverbal cue"?

Indeed, while many current campus codes do not absolutely require verbal consent, they strongly encourage it with warnings that "relying solely upon non-verbal communication" can lead to mistakes and misunderstandings. (The initial draft of the California bill contained such language as well.) With such rules, a college disciplinary panel evaluating a complaint is likely to err on the side of caution and treat only verbal agreement as sufficiently clear consent.

Student activists, aided by the social media, have also been conducting a reeducation campaign advocating for sexual consent. One might think sexual consent needs no advocacy; but, of course, this is not consent as traditionally understood. The norm this movement seeks to promote, according to a recent New York Times report, is to "ask first and ask often before engaging in sexual activity." Since the activists realize that this doesn't sound particularly appealing, they endeavor to "make consent cool" through various gimmicks: a website featuring a fictional line of Victoria's Secret lingerie decorated with slogans like "consent is sexy" and "ask first," giveaways of real condoms with similar mottoes ("ask before unwrapping"), and even, at Columbia University freshman orientation, candy prizes for "creative ideas" about negotiating consent.

To counter the common view that such negotiations are awkward moment-ruiners, the activists quoted in the Times argue that explicit consent can be "fun" and even ensure better sex through communication. Educational posters on the Columbia campus proclaim that "asking for consent can be as hot, creative, and as sexy as you make it."

With all these earnest reassurances, one can't help wondering if the consent evangelists really believe what they preach: The ladies (and their gentlemen allies) do protest too much. Moreover, their protestations are belied by the fact that the preaching is backed by undisguised coercion. In feminist educator Bernice Sandler's list of "Ten Reasons to Obtain Verbal Consent to Sex," the assertion that "many partners find it sexy to be asked, as sex progresses, if it's okay" is followed by "Because you won't be accused of rape" and "Because you won't go to jail or be expelled." Fun, fun, fun.

To say that sex without consent is rape is to state the obvious. But in traditional sexual scripts, consent is usually given through nonverbal cues. Of course this doesn't mean that people never talk during sex; but there's a big difference between sweet nothings and mandatory negotiations based on constant awareness that you may be raping your partner if you misread those cues. And "constant" is no exaggeration. Thus, the sexual assault policy at California's Occidental College states that "individuals choosing to engage in sexual activity must evaluate consent in an ongoing manner" and that consent can be withdrawn through an explicit "no" or "an outward demonstration" of hesitation or uncertainty, in which case "sexual activity must cease immediately and all parties must obtain mutually expressed or clearly stated consent before continuing." Whether anyone could feel "sexy" under such conditions seems dubious at best.

The feminism of "affirmative consent" is equally dubious. Indeed, this standard arguably strips women of agency in a way that traditional sexual norms never did. In the traditional script, the man initiates while the woman decides where (or whether) to set the limits. Under explicit consent rules, the person taking the lead must also assume much of the responsibility for setting the limits by making sure his partner wants to proceed—while the more passive party cannot be responsible even for making her wishes known without being asked.

While these rules are technically gender-neutral, the general assumption in campus activism is that the victim of nonconsensual heterosexual sex is female. Indeed, if there was a sudden rush of male students filing such charges against women who had failed to "ask first," it's likely that the activists would respond the same way battered women's advocates did in the 1990s when their push for mandatory arrest in domestic violence cases led to more arrests of women: by crying backlash and claiming that male abusers are manipulating the system to punish their female victims.

Until now, "affirmative consent" policies have been voluntarily adopted by colleges (though within a context of federal law that requires schools to protect students from broadly defined sexual violence). The California bill with its government mandate represents an alarming new phase in this campaign, as well as another step toward a de facto presumption of guilt in campus sexual misconduct cases. It effectively shifts the burden of proof to the accused while also requiring colleges to use the lowest possible threshold—"preponderance of the evidence"—in assessing the validity of a complaint. In practice, this means that any minimally plausible charge is likely to be upheld.

One would think that the California legislators would have some second thoughts about endorsing a bill that essentially redefines some 95 percent of human sexual encounters as rape (including married sex, since the bill specifically states that a prior relationship creates no presumption of consent). Even the Los Angeles Times, usually strongly supportive of the anti-campus rape campaign, criticized SB-967 in an editorial noting that "it seems extremely difficult and extraordinarily intrusive to micromanage sex so closely."


Monday, June 30, 2014

The Populist Uprising Against Common Core Is Libertarian and It’s Winning

It recognizes that there is no one answer to fixing education in America

When Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.)  announced last week that he would pull his state out of Common Core, he may have been sounding the death knell of the national education standards. Though a confluence of pushy and powerful interest groups have promised that they invented the solution to the American education crisis, people just aren't buying that more top-down standardization of America's education system is the answer.

The populist uprising against the national education standards is a dramatic and recent phenomenon, given that almost no one had even heard of Common Core until just two years ago. The standards were developed in 2009 by education policy bureaucrats at the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. President Obama's Department of Education took an immediate interest, and the federal government encouraged state governors and legislatures to sign on to the standards by bribing them with Race to the Top grant money. This led 45 state governments to commit to Common Core implementation, even though hardly anyone knew what that would cost (lots of money) or require (retraining teachers, purchasing new technology).

Since then, the American people have had ample time to learn about Common Core—and the more they hear, the less they like it.

Fierce opposition to the standards is remarkably nonpartisan. Both conservative grassroots organizations and teachers unions are urging state legislatures to resist Core implementation. Thousands of parents and teachers have shown up to town hall meetings to demand that their school boards don't hand over curriculum sovereignty to regional or federal education authorities.

The outrage among Tea Party groups is particularly problematic for Republican leaders and prospective candidates who signed on to the standards, including Jindal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a major Core cheerleader. It is very likely that being pro-Common Core will be a toxic position in any conservative presidential primary. Jindal's denunciation of the standards last week is as good an indication as any that he wants to keep the base on his side.

Still, the Core is not without its supporters. A confluence of powerful interest groups—the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, textbook giant Pearson, and standardized testing partnerships PARCC and Smarter Balanced—remain dedicated to the standards.

As a nominally conservative think tank, the Fordham Institute has led the way in arguing that concerns about Common Core being a federal takeover of education are unfounded. According to Fordham's Michael Brickman, "There are absolutely legitimate examples of federal overreach from the Obama administration. But I don't think Common Core is one of them because… it was something that was led by the governors and the state education chiefs."

People are unconvinced. While polling on Common Core varies wildly depending on how the questions are phrased, a recent poll release by pro-Core group Achieve, Inc. found that people who reported knowing something about the standards gave them an unfavorable review. Achieve, Inc. blamed Core "opponents who in the past year have made their opposition known through all media outlets, leaving a more negative 'impression' among voters."

The opponents are winning, and if Jindal's flip flop is any indication, the momentum seems to be shifting against Common Core. Libertarians should see this as a triumph.

Indeed, the populist uprising against Common Core is undeniably libertarian. It recognizes that there is no one answer to fixing education in America. It understands that a new wave of fancy government-enforced solutions is likely to fall short of solving anything. Instead, government needs to get out of the way, stop trapping kids in failing public schools based on where they were born, and stop using them as conscripted labor for standardized testing companies. Efforts that empower parents to fix their own local schools will always be more successful than cumbersome national initiatives.

After decades of politicians trying to solve the education problem by spending more money and proposing more standardization, people of all political stripes are simply unconvinced that there is one magic "fix" and that it will be invented in a federal laboratory. Instead, people are wising up to the demonstrable fact that more choice and local autonomy produce the conditions most favorable for students to discover and flourish in school environments that suit their individual needs.


More Pushback: Tennessee Quits Common Core Aligned Test

Tennessee has removed itself from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing consortium aligned to the Common Core national education standards, joining the ranks of 18 other states pushing back against Common Core.

Gov. Bill Haslam, Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman and the chair of the state board of education, Fielding Rolston, sent a letter to PARCC CEO Laura Slover announcing the state’s decision to exit PARCC and re-adopt the old state exam, the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program. This letter follows legislation passed by the state legislature and signed by Haslam in May.

The proposal requires that “the Tennessee comprehensive assessment program tests, inclusive of achievement, end-of-course and the comprehensive writing assessments, shall be administered in the subjects of English language arts and math in grades three through eleven (3-11) during the 2014-15 school year”—which will begin this fall. The proposal also requires the state department of education to craft a new state test that will be implemented by the 2015-16 school year.

The letter states:

Tennessee is hereby withdrawing from the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and will no longer be a governing state or a participating state.

Shortly after Common Core’s inception in 2009, the national standards “common to a significant number of states” were immediately incentivized by the administration with $4.35 billion in Race to the Top competitive grants and No Child Left Behind waivers. Forty-six states signed on to the standards with the agreement that they implement them by the 2014-15 school year.

But to add to the bureaucratic boondoggle, the administration also directly financed two national testing consortia, the PARCC exam and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and created a technical review panel, housed at the Department of Education.

Tennessee’s move leaves only 16 states and the District of Columbia remaining in the PARCC testing consortium — down from the original 25 states.

SBAC also is seeing a decline in membership. Of the 31 original states that adopted the assessments, 25 remain.

In total, 19 states have now pushed back against the Common Core—including four that have now exited the standards completely. As the fall implementation deadline looms near, states are taking the chance to reclaim their standard-setting autonomy.


North Carolina Enacts Law Protecting Student Prayer in Public Schools

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill into law last week that protects the religious liberty of public school students, including their right to pray, share religious viewpoints, and distribute religious literature at school without harassment from school officials.

S.B. 370 was introduced in March 2013. It passed 106-9 in the North Carolina House and 48-1 in the state Senate before Gov. McCrory signed it on June 19th.

The new law’s stated goal is “to clarify student rights to engage in prayer and religious activity in school, to create an administrative process for remedying complaints regarding exercise of those student rights, and to clarify religious activity for school personnel.”

Among other things, the law protects a student’s right to “pray, either silently or audibly and alone or with other students,” to “attempt to share religious viewpoints with other students,” and to “possess or distribute religious literature,” provided that any activity is done in an orderly fashion. It also provides protection for student-led religious groups, and states that “a student shall not penalized or rewarded based on the religious content of the student’s work.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) spoke out against S.B. 370, claiming that it “could serve to ostracize students of different beliefs.”

The ACLU-NC also said that the legislation “is completely unnecessary” and that the right to religious expression in the public schools is “already well-protected.”

However, concern about the issue of religious liberty in public schools was aroused in 2012 when a poem written by a six-year-old girl in McDowell County was censored because it contained the word “God.’

The child had written the poem in honor of her grandfather, and planned to read it aloud in her elementary school’s annual Veteran’s Day program. But the school principal told her she could not recite the phrase “he prayed to God for peace, he prayed to God for strength” after one parent complained.

When questioned, the school’s principal said that she had decided to “err on the side of caution to prevent from crossing the line on the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.”

“The North Carolina bill is the kind of legislation that is needed in every state,” The Catholic League said  in a statement. The League said that it will be contacting governors across the United States advocating for similar laws.

Earlier this month, California high school graduate Brooks Hamby was forced to rewrite his salutatory graduation speech three times to eliminate all references to his Christian faith. However, he made the remarks during the school's graduation ceremony anyway, quoting the Bible, which he called “the biggest best-selling book of all time."

In contrast, a Washington high school’s drama award ceremony in May featured profanity, sex toys and and offensive jokes by a teacher who later apologized, but faced no disciplinary action.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Back to the dead-end

Drop out and get a real education

Life Experience, New Technology Can Teach You More Than School Ever Could

I have written before about the college bubble in the United States and where it may lead. The current problems in the college system are pretty obvious, just as Mark Cuban stated in an interview last week. How this giant college debacle unfolds will have huge implications and may lead to entirely new ways of looking at education, not only in the university system but with schooling overall.

For the last few generations in the West, the prestige of earning a college degree has been diminishing. It has now reached a tipping point where the cost of going to college far out-weighs the benefits. Many people do not realize the vast changes that are happening around them, not just in education but in all sectors of the economy.

Young people have been told by their well-meaning parents and university administrators that going to college is a requirement for being a productive member of society. They have also been told that your earnings are correlated with the level of degree you attain.

Ironically enough, a first-year statistics course will help you dispel this fallacy. Correlation is not causation, and I would say that this correlation has more to do with the smart and well-connected members of society being able to earn more money, whether or not they hold a degree. Bill Gates, for instance, dropped out of Harvard, which in fact increased his ability to make his fortune. Today, this is even more pronounced, not only because the cost of college education has gone up but also how far removed from the market these learned skills have become. In today’s word, real-world experience is more valuable than wasting time and money on a common degree.

With a bachelors degree’s in hand, most are then abandoned in an economy where the “secure jobs” they were promised are nowhere to be found. These “secure jobs” were part of a three-legged stool (Social Security, 401k, company pension) that is now eroding and will likely be completely pulled out from most of those that bought into it. The fact is the economy is weighed down with taxes and regulation, and the baby boomers are not leaving their jobs to be replaced by the next generation because they are unprepared for retirement.

Once a student graduates, they have six months before they need to start repaying the loan. What does that mean for those unable to find that cushy job they were waiting for within those six months? They decide to pile on more debt and go back to the carefree college life for another degree. This only postpones the pain and creates a cycle of debt that thousands of students are now trapped in. The results of this cycle can be seen in the ever increasing student debt which now sits at US$1.2 trillion.

Based on my own conversations with students, when the rubber hits the road and these students finally do need to find a job to payback their debt, many are unable to do so and will simply default. I have written about the potential consequences of this phenomenon in my previous article.

The current university system is on an unsustainable path, and we have better alternatives in today’s technological landscape.

The Schooling of People

Although many people are able to admit that there are problems with the university system, and that it may not be the best decision in today’s world, compulsory K-12 schooling is still very much a sacred cow. It is practically heresy to suggest that children not attend.

It’s funny that the only other time we use the word “school,” we are referring to a school of fish that think and swim together in unison, as one monolithic group. From my observation, current schools serve the same purpose in stamping out imagination and creativity, in order to instill obedience and the ethics that pleases the tribe.

This effort is not just my suspicion but has been well documented by authors such as John Taylor Gatto, Charlotte Iserbyt, and Murray Rothbard. You can watch this priceless video interview with John Taylor Gatto, where he talks about every aspect of the school system that he was once a part of. The School Sucks Project is also a great place to go to learn about the problems with the current education system. Many people are upset about the implementation of Common Core, but this is just one example of an agenda that has gone on for decades to clamp down on imagination and individuality.

Giving up children to strangers to be taught in large classes for 15,000 hours is something that is unique in human history and is not adequate in providing the amount of attention a child needs during their formative years. The denigration of the system has turned many public schools into what are now essentially child prisons that busy parents use as a babysitting services. I believe we’re at the point now where sending your child to some of these institutions could be considered a form of child abuse.

For these reasons, I see the K-12 schools, along with the current university system, unfit for the technological times that we live in.


British school with just 13 pupils - all white - is accused by Ofsted of racist bullying: Governor attacks report after village primary is put in special measures over incident

A village primary school with just 13 pupils was put into special measures after an Ofsted inspection found too many incidents of racist or homophobic bullying and serious acts of violence.

But the chairman of governors at Ravenstonedale Endowed School in rural Cumbria has fought back, claiming the report was based on a single incident of children using the word ‘gay’ as a throwaway comment and not knowing what it meant.

Liz Morgan said it had been ‘blown out of proportion’ and also denied there had been any racism at the remote school, where all of the children are white.

She said she believed Ofsted had an agenda against small schools and suspected they’d been unfairly labelled racist because racism and homophobia were treated as one category by Ofsted.

Parents of pupils said the report was ‘ludicrous’.

Ravenstonedale Endowed School, near Kirkby Stephen, was labelled ‘inadequate’ – the lowest rating out of four grades.

Inspectors visited the school in April, where pupils range from ages five to 11 and travel in from nearby hamlets and farms.

Their report condemned the behaviour of pupils and highlighted ‘too many incidents of racist or homophobic bullying’, and ‘serious instances of violence’.

Staff were warned they urgently needed to improve pupils’ behaviour as parents had already pulled out 12 children, out of just 25, in a six-week period this year. Ofsted claimed this was because parents were ‘concerned’ about behaviour.

However the chairman of governors insisted that pupils had been taken out of the school mainly because of parents being anxious about the need for them to engage with larger numbers of children.

She said: ‘Parents have taken children out for a variety of reasons – racism and homophobic bullying have never been a reason.

‘As the school is getting below a certain size, parents have been worried about the social side of education they think their children need.’

She said she believed Ofsted’s criticisms had been based on a single report in the school’s own discipline record about children using the word ‘gay’.

She said the school did not tolerate it and spoke to the child and their parents – and had since challenged the report with Ofsted but received no response.

Helen Buckler, 43, who has three children at the school, said: ‘It is  all absolute rubbish and upsettingly inaccurate.  ‘It is totally ludicrous. I’ve never heard of any racism, homophobia or serious violence. There aren’t even any ethnic minorities at the school – every kid is white.’

A statement from the school said Ofsted was not ‘sensitive to the particular challenges faced by small rural schools’. It added: ‘We were particularly upset by the allegations of racist and homophobic bullying as we do not believe there have been any such incidents in the school.’

Ofsted stood by its report, insisting that both racist and homophobic comments had been made by pupils.